Saturday, May 10, 2014

Irregular Warfare in Chain of Command

...some excitable militia from the the Tom Mann Centuria, Spain, 1936

In this post I’m going to touch on some new experimental/optional rules ideas for using irregular forces in Chain of Command. I think Irregular force types need to be handled in a distinct way in Chain of Command to better reflect their temperate and motivations. 

The sorts of troops that would fall into this category for WW2 are most obviously Partisan forces and also Resistance fighters. Some of these troops could perhaps be treated as Green, Command Dice 4 troops but really this just makes them very bad military forces, which to my mind they are not. They behave differently because they haven’t been through the process of militarisation which by its nature is aimed at overcoming the ‘bad traits’ that make irregular forces unreliable in a military sense. 

They're also motivated and react in different ways to regular forces, sometimes the same, often times not. Military training attempts to integrate and overcome these traits, but irregulars never really do as they may exhibit unexpected tenacity or brittle cohesion....mostly it's an unknown quantity until the day of battle....which really is the problem to start with. Despite this lack of formal military training, the bonds of local personalities, culture, politics and religion all come together in varying combinations to motivate irregular forces to fight.

Chain of Command fundamentally focuses on ‘same-type’ troops who differ mostly in structure and to a degree organisational and cultural influences i.e. esprit de corps. The military process of discipline and training is designed to overcome the stress of battle and thus allow the application of force to achieve a successful outcome to an engagement. Essentially these armies are using the same basis of psychology to combine equipment, training and leadership to determine the winner and loser in these confrontations…mostly leadership.

Irregular warfare forces do not follow the process of militarisation described above.  Their ‘strength’ in fighting derives from their tribal or clan bonds, their commitment to their cause, immediate community and experience in warfighting. Combined, these assets can produce determined and tough fighters. Conversely the lack of formal discipline and to a degree personal accountability or ‘group risk’ usually makes irregular forces skittish when the test of combat is applied. The result can cause the motivation and morale of irregular troops to be less than stable under pressure.

To that end the following ideas provide a different way to use the current mechanisms in Chain of Command to reflect some of these qualities. Two new ideas are used to produce the ‘unstable’ nature of irregular forces – they are motivation and outcome driven shock effects.

Outcome Driven Shock Effects
In Chain of Command the accumulation of shock causes a unit to deteriorate by becoming pinned and ultimately broken when enough 'shock pressure' is applied. We change this for Irregular forces. When units are fired at shock and losses are used to determine a unit’s morale reaction, rather than tracking ‘actual shock’ to incrementally record a unit's current state ie Irregular forces do not keep track of shock! When irregulars are fired at we use ‘resultant' shock and kills (which count as 'two shock') to trigger a test to determine an outcome…that’s all. 

The factors used to determine the outcome are linked to unit size and the command dice number (4,5,6)  of the irregular unit when determining whether a unit either shrugs of the 'shock' of fire, becomes Pinned or is Broken…so no build up of shock…just an outcome from being fired at....very fast, very simple. 

The effects of fire also determine the amount of firepower an irregular unit puts out. Because of the way units move from being in a 'good' state to pinned, the fire reduction is accounted for in the determination of whether the unit is pinned or not…it gives more of a group feel rather than an incremental individual feel (which tracking shock provides). Because Pinned reduces fire by 50% this was taken to be the point where most of the group didn't commit to the fight and thus their firepower dropped significantly. It also removed the need for any monitoring of unit 'fire condition'..much simpler and cleaner. 

You might think that quality would be a better determinant of fire outcome instead of Command Dice, however quality is already accounted for in the firing stage of the calculation. Command Dice in Chain of Command reflects (amongst other things) the soft factor command and control ability of a force, training, resilience and cohesion, and this when combined with the the quality and size of the unit gives a better overall 'test' of a unit's reaction to combat stress.

In concert with that a level of shock/losses allows a certain threshold of pain to be reached before this test is even triggered. This produces very fast fire result determination outcomes – you remove casualties and quickly proceed to the outcome table….ok…pinned…broken…that’s all! A nice side benefit of this is that handling larger irregular forces is possible as the ‘micro management’ of shock does not apply to them…this helps speed play.

Some African militias would be
good candidates for using Irregular Warfare rules.
Now, we couple the outcome based shock effect with the new concept of Motivation. This accounts for the willingness (or wellness) of the psyche of the irregular force as a whole based on the battlefield events that occur throughout a game….you know the idea…guns waving in the air…"lets get 'em" or "this is not going to well, let’s hit the dirt and see what happens next". 

The idea of motivation is that the events on the force morale table cause an irregular force to become motivated. There are three stages of increasing (committed, motivated, highly motivated) and decreasing (reluctant, unmotivated, wavering) motivation. This motivation effect applies to the entire force, though individual units and events cause it to fluctuate.

Each period or scenario can have motivation effected by certain situation, such as irregular troops being attacked by aircraft (which they generally do not like). Alternatively the seizing of an objective may increase morale as well…flag on the top of a building type of idea. When the motivation is at its highest level this drives units to become Aggressive. At the bottom end of motivation this reduces their combat capability.

This motivation can go up and down and if a Turn ends (i.e. a break in the action occurs) then the motivation is reset to neutral as the bloodlust or fear dissipates in the pause in activity.

This makes irregulars feel and react quite differently to the regular forces with their structures of leaders to lift of shock and manage battle psychology more effectively instead of it being somewhat more random than those of the ill-disciplined irregular fighter. Irregulars can move quickly from feeling fine to routing and even back again in relatively short order.

Such a system can have a lot application to theatres of conflict beyond the Second World War. It can be used for many guerrilla armies in Africa, conflicts involving Arab Militias, indeed armies of the colonial era to a degree, such as NW Frontier Afghans as well of force of the interwar era such as the People’s Militias of the Spanish Civil War or Riffian tribesmen of Morocco.

With the above in mind we shall explore these ideas by pitting a regular European army against some irregular fighters - in this case our after action report will detail a clash set during the Rif War, fought between Spain and the Riffian forces of Abd-el-Krim sometime in the mid 1920s in Morocco.

Riffian tribesmen, fighting in their preferred style...
...from cover, using aimed fire and together! 

Engagement at El Sunussi
In this scenario a Spanish force is patrolling near an abandoned outpost known to be frequented by Riffian irregular forces for water from a local well.  The encounter was the Patrol scenario from Chain of Command rulebook.

The Riffian troops consist of an Arab Harka at slightly reduced strength commanded by a local Harka Caid (senior leader in CoC) in charge of two Hamsain-u-asheen (large sections) each led by a Caid (junior leader) with two 10 man T’nash units (squads), one with a flag bearer. In support of this force was a unit of 10 cavalry and a captured M1915 Hotchkiss MMG. Rated Green, Command Dice 5, for this encounter they had Force Morale 8.

The Spanish had a typical platoon of Moroccan Regulares, North African troops in the pay of the Spanish realm. This was made up of two Section of three 6 man squads. Two LMGs were taken as support options from the Regulares MG platoon, one attached to each section. Rated Regular, Command Dice 6, for this encounter they had Force Morale 8.


Patrol Phase
Both sides jockeyed for position a fair bit. As there was little cover to hide behind in the end the Jump Off Points (JOPs) for both sides ended up on their baseline, except one Spanish JOP which was in a nearby wood.

Here you can see the two Arab T'nash moving off from their JOPs as the initial Spanish troops, (two squads) emerge from the wood.

The game commenced with the Rif deploying two T'nash and moving toward the rocky outcrop in the centre of the table and past the Roman ruin. The Riffian player got a double phase and pushed up quickly. Using their 'stealthy' ability they are able to move 2D6 and still remain in a tactical stance (as can the Spanish Regulares). 

This mode of movement is pretty standard for both sides as the troops used every bit of 'cover' to advance to their advantage. The Riffian troops quickly advanced to try and get the Spanish in a cross fire once the initial Spanish deployment out of the wood became obvious.

As often happens in Chain of Command the action focused on a particular section of the table and the troops tried to move as quickly as possible to make use of every bit of 'real cover' on table as they could. For the Regulares this involved pushing up into a rocky outcrop so they could set up a base of fire from that location.

The Riffians successfully moved up and occupied the central rocky outcrop and positioned themselves in a tactical stance just to the front of the Regulares LMG squad nestled in the rocks to their front. The second Regulares squad was delayed as all effort was placed to ensure that the first squad made it to the rocks and prevent the Rif from occupying this critical bit of terrain.


A general firefight commenced with some hot dice rolling by the Regulares LMG squad who also had the benefit of being able to go 'tactical' and ensconce themselves in the rocks...essentially putting him them in hard cover.

Both sides have gone tactical as the second Regulares squad moves up.

The Spanish commander then pushed up his second squad as the Rif firmly set their fire positions, the left hand T'nash in tactical mode and the other T'nash now settled into the central rocky outcrop. These on table deployments came at the expense of any other Rif forces deploying though the Riffian commander was clicking up his Chain of Command dice with several rolls of 5. Whilst limiting his movement the Chain of Command dice build up was quite the thing the irregular Rif force commander was looking to get so it wasn't all bad.

...a worrying cross fire for the Rif player to contend with, as the second Spanish Regulares section emerges on their flank. The Rif player now needed to determine whether to keep up concentrated fire on the Regulares LMG squad in the rocks or turn to counter the newly arrived Spanish troops. Whilst outnumbered, he would be in hard cover so could hold his own until reinforcements arrived.

Still the Rif commander had not deployed in his other T'nash and the Spanish took the opportunity to push up their forces as much as possible. The Riffian commander had by this time built up a Chain of Command dice and was starting on another, so he did have a number of options available to him as the Spanish commander had yet to build a Chain of Command dice.

Nevertheless, out of the wood emerged the third squad of the 1st Section of Regulares completing the deployment in that location for the Spanish player. This would give the Spanish a local manpower and firepower advantage and the Riffian commander needed to counter this development.  

Similarly the placement of a T'nash in the central rocky outcrop exposed the troops to the incoming 2nd Regulares squad, even though they were in a Tactical stance which certainly made them harder to inflict damage upon. Deploying and firing at the same time the Rif T'nash took a good deal of fire from the incoming Regulares, (receiving four shock) which triggered the first test on the Irregular Fire & Combat result table which the unit passed, suffering no ill effects.  

The first Rif T'nash routs, having failed its fire outcome test.

Seeing he needed to counter the build up of force on his left flank, the Riffian commander pushed up some fire support. Deploying his medium machine gun team and moving it as quickly as possible to take up a fire position in the ruin. Hopefully the longer range of the tripod weapon would allow it to dominate the ground to its front and break up the Regulares LMG squad in the rocks. All attention was now focused on the left hand flank as the Riffian commander desperately tried to achieve a fire ascendancy and take out a Spanish unit. 

Whilst this concerted action might have drawn him away from deploying in further units, the 'local victory' he was after would increase the motivation of his force and stiffen the resolve of his men, allowing them to gain a benefit in any subsequent fire or combat outcome tests they would have to this necessity (as he saw it) to motivate his troops was at this point affecting his battle plan, or at the very least, his battle management.  

This is an important point any irregular force commander must always keep in mind i.e. the temperament of his men and achieving success to keep their motivation levels high, or at least neutral assn counter adverse effects as well. Negative motivation effects (units and leaders lost), can severely effect the resilience of an irregular force's resolve.

The battle became general at this point. All of the Spanish troops had been deployed and the action was heavily focused on the struggle around the rocky outcrops. This generated a lot of shooting. The Spanish LMG squad, firmly entrenched in the rocks, were hard to hit. They took a few shock from the fire of the two T'nash they were engaged with but it was not enough. By this stage the Spanish platoon commander (Senior Leader) had emerged in that location, where his presence greatly assisted with command and control responsibilities, primarily with the removal of shock received.

As a result the Riffian T'nash were getting the worst of it.  The Regulares LMG squad unleashed a hail of fire into the lead enemy unit and it suffered heavy losses. Already having lost 3 men in the previous fire fights, for which it was able to shrug off the effect of fire, it now suffered a further three casualties, in addition the fire wounded the Caid (junior leader) and caused a drop in force morale of 1 point and reduction in motivation because the leader was wounded.  These losses triggered another check on the fire outcome table.

By way of example we can see how this table works. The unit was at the time of testing reduced to a small size, with its force having Command Dice 5 (CD5). Cross referencing the table the Rif player rolled a 2, which resulted in a Broken result. This caused the unit to Rout from the effect of fire - note, no shock is marked on the unit, only the outcome from the fire is conducted.

By this stage the Riffian forces had suffered a serious, but not catastrophic reverse. The effect of the T'nash routing was to further reduce the Motivation of the Riffians by another stage from Reluctant to Unmotivated. Thus any further test required would suffer a -1 morale penalty on the Fire and Combat outcome table until a better motivation level could be restored. A -1 to an outcome test is a significant shift and the Riffian player would need to address this in short order. 

He had two options open to him - achieve a success of his own or 'end the turn' (which returns the irregular motivation to neutral). He would now need to start to consider these options more importantly as part of battle management as another reduction in motivation could result in a collapse of his entire force if the Spanish player pushed his advantage and triggered more outcome tests. Adding to his motivation woes, his Force Morale also reduced by 2 points because of a 'section breaking'.


The subsequent few phases saw a seesawing of activity as command dice produced lacklustre opportunities for both sides. The Riffian commander had the serious issue to resolve of a broken unit needing attending to, but also a delicate tactical dilemma of leaving his central T'nash exposed to the fire of the now well placed Spanish forces on his right flank. 

The Spanish commander continued to pepper effective range fire into the Machine Gun position and fortuitously got three kills (3 6s!) from one phase of fire...that reduced the Riffian MMG to a crew of 1 and the fire slackened off considerably. Miraculously the Riffian MMG team rolled a 6 and held its ground ...Lords of the Atlas indeed! The next phase of fire for the Spanish player put an end to the machine gun team for the day as the last man was taken out before it could in any way be recrewed.

This caused a force morale test but no morale loss occurred. This meant that the Riffian motivation also didn't reduce as motivation is only adjusted when force morale changes. However, with his left flank teetering on collapse the Riffian player now used all the advantages in his arsenal. 

In his next phase he introduced his Caid (Senior Leader) to the location of the broken T'nash. He then proceeded to use the three command initiatives of the leader to restore the unit from broken it turned out he removed both markers (which only irregular forces can do) by rolling two 6s. He needed to do this for two reasons. 

First, to avail himself of the special 'Infiltration' ability of the Riffian forces, a unit must not be broken. Infiltration allows a unit to be removed from play if out of line of sight of an enemy and beyond 12" (in the picture you can't see but there is a small hillock that does break LOS from the Regulares and the broken T'nash). Secondly he can End the Turn and gain the first advantage of a weakened unit begin able to be removed from play, along with any attached leader(s) and critically for him, the motivation of his force returned to he removes the two stage of 'negative' motivation (as the break in the action settles the nerves of the tribesmen). ....result the once broken unit is withdrawn under the leadership of the Caid and the Harka's morale is restored.

By these actions the Caid has regained a degree of control over the situation....clever tactics! Even though the entire Riffian left flank is 'open' to exploitation by the Spanish player the Riffian commander still has his jump off points in that location and can introduce units straight back into the fight....including his cavalry, which if handled properly, could be devastating.

See that the T'nash has left the table and the MMG has been destroyed. The Regulares have taken fire also but that strong position amongst the rocks has saved them from the accurate Riffian fire.


The next few phase passed between both sides, Regulares advancing whilst a fresh T'nash unit moved on under the eye of the Riffian Harka Caid. The Rif cavalry did not deploy on the left flank as expected, instead, they advanced unhindered on the right attempting what appeared to be a sweep of the Spanish left. If they could make their presence felt in the next few phases they could turn things around for the Rif. 

Meanwhile a hot fire was kept up on the central Riffian unit, further weakening them as they lost another casualty.  Attempting to place himself where needed, the Rif junior Caid moved to support the central unit.

By this stage the Spanish commander realised that he had to push his temporary advantage as much as possible before the Rif cavalry and infantry combined in a pincer movement on his left edge.

To his right he advanced his Regulares 'at the double' with his LMG squad, supported by the second rifle squad, temporarily commanded by the platoon commander. This movement was aimed at seizing the ruins to establish an enfilade position on the remaining Riffian forces. On his right he 'doubled' the second rifle squad with the section leader attached directly at two vulnerable targets. The objects of their attention was a two man Riffian marksmen team, up to this point relatively inconsequential in proceedings, along with a Rif jump off point. If he could take out the sniper and capture the JOP then the Riffian force morale and motivation may very well suffer irrevocably.

At the top of the page you can see the Rif cavalry just moving on table, supported by an infantry unit to their left. The Spanish push can be seen with the ruin now occupied and the sniper team snuffed out!

In the centre the Spanish second section opened up with a hail of fire on the weakened central Riffian unit. Without knowing it, this blew the lid off the entire Riffian defence. 

The attached Caid leader was killed outright!...(a roll of 1!). This reduced the force morale by a further 2 points, which left the T'nash leaderless and drove the motivation down to Reluctant yet again....ouch! Because of the casualties an outcome test was triggered.With the T'nash now reduced to a small unit, the hapless Riffian player rolled terribly....a 2....causing the unit to rout! A further two points off the force down to 2 points.

On the right flank the combat between the second rifle squad (5 men) with its attached leader against the two marksmen resulted in the Riffians being eliminated and two Regulares casualties. This wiped out Riffian team fortunately caused no force morale reduction and thus no motivation reduction either.

It was all for nought however as the Spanish commander played his Chain of Command dice he'd been husbanding for just such a moment. By declaring an End of Turn, all enemy jump off points overrun and not subsequently retaken are removed from play. 

With that the Spaniard player took his chances needing a 4, 5 or 6 to inflict a two point force morale reduction on the Riffian force, thus breaking their force morale and ending the game......the luck was with the Regulares today as a score of 6 sealed the fate of the Riffians in this encounter.

Game over!


The purpose of the game was to test out the irregular warfare rules, more so than the individual tactics of one side over another and certainly not the result. So focusing on the Riffian side we can see that a number of points were raised.

The first was that the Riffian commander noticed that handling more units would be simpler with this system. Micro managing shock, appropriate for regular structured armies, seems less appropriate for irregular forces. In fact the whole purpose of military organisations is to control shock and irregular tribal organisations do not lend themselves to this 'controlled' process.

A critical aspect, highlighted several times during play was that irregular motivation is very important. This felt right. Keeping force motivation up is a primary task of an irregular player and the ability of both sides to end a turn and 'neutralise' motivation is an important 'leveller'. Coupled to this ability for a player to end the turn, when playing with an irregular force, the Chain of Command dice is also allowed to counter an 'end of turn' play and keep the current turn going thereby keeping force motivation up or down as the case may be.

For the specifics of this period the Rif ability to infiltrate and move into and out of play highlighted how useful this tactic can be. It won't be used often but having a chain of command dice available to do this as the situation allows is very handy.

The fluctuating temperament of irregular forces is allowed for by enabling their leader to rally his units, even if a turn hasn't ended. Thus a unit can be broken (as happened in this game) and recovered totally in a subsequent phase...albeit it require two sixes rolled on two or three dice to do it...a very low chance, though it did occur in this game. Conversly rallying from pinned or routed could take a long time so the erratic nature of irregular forces keeps both the irregular force commander as well as his opponent guessing!!

Motivation is something that can be defined through a range of variables. Specific scenarios could cause irregular troop's motivation to rise or fall and even some scenario events might cause this as well. The examples given before about irregulars being attack by aircraft being a case in point. The list could be made very period specific and would probably be best handled that way.

The outcome based morale effect seems far more appropriate for these types of force. Both the player in command of those forces as well as his opponent are more or less unsure of the 'real state' of an irregular unit, though the influencing factor of motivation is a critical element.

So far as the game went, the Riffian player conceded he probably became too focused on the on-table action and should have got more troops in faster when he had the chance. Had he done so the additional forces could have shored up his faltering flank or drawn off Spanish forces from his other one.  His cavalry advantage was never properly exploited and the Spanish player would have had his hands full if confronted to front and flank by foot and mounted forces time! The rules moved along at a clip, 15mins for the patrol phase and 1hr45mins for the game itself...

I hope the ideas presented provide food for thought as it provides a very fluid game that in no way effects how the basic game is played, with only minor rules adjustments needed. The rules are still advanced beta test but do seem to work quite well.

.....Durutti anyone?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Spanish Civil War - Moroccan Regulares on the heals of the Rhodesian Bush Wars after action report this post turns the spotlight to another immense area of interest, the Spanish Civil War. For the uninitiated, the struggle between Nationalist and Republican forces in Spain in the interwar era has many unique aspects that make it eminently worthy of study and gaming, particularly at the platoon level. There are quite simply so many colourful variations in the possible forces that can be fielded it has something for everyone. 

These pictures showcase the Moroccan Regulares, North African troops who fought for the Nationalist cause, who were much feared by many a Spanish Republican. The forces are organised to reflect a Regulares platoon as detailed in the Chain of Command:Espana army list....see the TFL blog for more details on these enigmatic Africanistas.

No doubt you will see these Regulares in action in the future on this blog, but for those that can't wait pop on over to Scrivsland and check out the Chain of Command:Espana campaign being fought using these very same Regulares forces. Be sure to check all the back posts as Scrivs has done a wonderful job with his CoC:Espana project.

All these 28mm figures are from the superb miniatures range produced by Empress Miniatures. The lovely flag is from Flags of War, simply gorgeous. Really this post is just a bunch of pics to showcase these lovely miniatures and colourful troops....


Here we see a typical Section, there being two in the platoon. The Section Sargento is waving his hand and the LMG squad is on the left with the two rifle squads (each should have 6 men, only 5 shown here). 

A top view of the full platoon without any support assets. The two sections, one LMG and two Rifle Squads each, with their respective Sargento (junior leader) and the Platoon HQ group, one Soldado with a flag.

...a nice shot which shows just who pretty those Flags of War flags are. I painted the edges slightly to get the 'join' to disappear hence the slight colour variation.

...a terrifying sight for any Republican miliciano...

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Operation Glamour, May 1967 - Outpost scenario, Chain of Command

Rhodesian War - Farmstead/Outpost scenario, Chain of Command

In this instalment we look at a bush war scenario that was very common - an attack on an isolated farmer's home or villager's kraal,  police station, or military outpost, be it in Rhodesia or a neighbouring frontline state such as Mozambique, Zambia or Botswana.

The thrust behind this scenario is the attacking player must decide on the 'weight' of his attack against the outpost and whether he wishes to make that the main target or simply use it as 'bait' for the relieving defending forces that enter the table. If an attacker chooses to emphasise an assault against the building and it's inhabitants as his sole objective then whilst the target might be harder to 'destroy' it enables him to concentrate and tailor his force for that task. Conversely he can set up a quasi-ambush along the access road to the outpost as well and position his troops cross country to interdict any enemy attempting to relieve the outpost.

As the defender can enter via the road or through the nearby bush land or a combination of both, the attacker will have to plan for a range of contingencies and pre battle objectives and possible switch lines to counter this response...not just an attack. As part of his plan he must allow for paths of egress for his troops as well, which if he is unable to get to will result in his capture or worse.

The defender must hold out in the outpost and hope the attacker cannot achieve his objective before help arrives. A slow or unresponsive counter punch can result in the attacker achieving his objectives and slipping away, whereas a hasty and rapid assault could lead him into a planned ambush...he will not know whether the outpost, or in fact the relief force, is the main objective of the must balance aggressiveness with caution. If the defender is a Security Force (SF) platoon then he will also not be aware of the level of insurgency the Communist Terrorist (CT) player has selected...which will determine the willingness of his forces to hang around in the fight. It's worth noting that whilst this scenario is typical of the many Insurgent raids into Rhodesia it can also be the basis for a raid by SF forces on overland operations into Frontline States which were conducted by many army units.

In this scenario we pit a group of somewhat experienced ZANLA insurgents attacking a local krall known to sympathise with Rhodesian forces. A reacting body of Security Force army troops from the Rhodesian Regiment respond to the attack, this all taking place during Operation Glamour, circa May, 1967.

Forces - CT player
ZANLA Vakomana Fighters
Green: -7 
Command Dice: 5 

Commander (Superior Junior Leader) and Deputy Leader (Junior Leader), both with PPSh.

There are two Sections per Platoon, each

3 Guerrilla with PPSh
8 Guerrillas with SKS

Plus (PFR split is -7 to +2= 9). Scenario die roll for support equals support list choices are 9+6=14.

4pts Level Two Insurgency 
2pts Mine
2pts Replace one SKS sections with AK-47
2pts Replace all PPSh-41 in the force with AK-47
2pts Upgrade entire force as Vakomana Shumba' (aggressive troops)
1pt Exchange one Guerrilla's SKS for a RPD LMG*
1pt Exchange one Guerilla's SKS for a RPG-2*
1pt Hand Grenades for one squad

These troops suffer the (historical) detriment of three traits resulting in them being slow to act (low initiative), vulnerable in the open (Garden Boys) with bad fire discipline (Bad Shots). On the up side they have special rules allowing them to move very quickly (Tsuro) and redeploy (Shumba).... They also have a reasonable split in the PFR to tailor their force.

Forces - SF player
Royal Rhodesian Regiment
Regular: +2 
Command Dice: 5

Lieutenant (Senior Leader) with SMG or Sergeant (Superior Junior Leader) with L1A1, One radio operator with an L1A1,  One trooper with an L1A1

There are two Sections per Platoon, each

Corporal (Junior Leader) with an L1A1, Two troopers with an L1A1, one as medic

There are two Groups per Section, each

L/Cpl with L1A1, Gunner with an FN-MAG, Trooper with an L1A1
5 troopers with an L1A1

Scenario die roll for support equals support list choices are;
2pts Truck to transport up to 20 men or tow a weapon x2 = 4pts
2pts Heavy Cover barricade

The Royal Rhodesian Regiment troops are your 'plain vanilla' Rhodesian force. Nothing to outstanding to say, they have a Bush Doctor in their platoon to help with any casualties but that's it! Their low PFR however will keep the enemy force choices a little under control.

Force Morale Points at start...
CT player - 8
SF player - 8

Patrol Phase
The patrol phase for this scenario is somewhat different to that conducted in a normal chain of command game. In this situation only the attacking player uses patrol markers, moving them as usual until he gets at or within 12" of the road or the farm. At this point, the opposing player starts rolling 2D6 each time a marker has finished moving and if the distance or beyond to the patrol marker is rolled on the dice then the marker is locked the closer you get to these 'obstacles' the more likely you are to be locked down (reflecting cautious reconnaissance near areas of 'threat'). The 'patrol markers' are then converted to jump off points (JOPs) as they are shown in the pic....this is a unique sequence specific to this scenario as the attacker is the only 'active' player in the patrol phase...the defender doesn't patrol as such as in reality he doesn't really know he's there.

In this case the ZANLA player pushed his recon elements (JOPs) up the middle of the table from the side location (one of two he may choose from), in an effort to be able to deploy to cover the road approach as well as deploy near the kraal objective.

In this pic you can see the Defender (Rhodesian) reinforcement entry point and the Building objective or target for the insurgents to hit.


The action opens up with the locals wandering out of their huts after hearing some rifle fire coming from the edge of the clearing in front of the kraal.  With these captured prisoners the locals are a little tense as insurgents have been reported in the area...

...the Rhodesian Ridgeback can hear something...looks like the locals can see something too....

...and right they were! The insurgents generate three chain of command points on their first phase and elect not to deploy any troops but make enough noise as they move up such that their presence is announced! 

...The Security Force, responding to a flare fired from the kraal, makes it appearance on the access road in the first truck which is carrying a section platoon sergeant and one section of infantry...

Note terrain is scattered about the entire table as 'light cover', barring the clearing near the kraal...limiting visibility but not movement.

...out of the scrub they emerge, the first ZANLA squad. The guerrillas gaggle around their jump off location as they move to the edge of the clearing and attempt to strike straight at the kraal. It's a well planned approach that has them within striking distance of their target from the opening of the action...

Dice: (5,1,2,6,4) Note dispersal point at bottom of the pic...the three jerry cans.

Racing out of the huts the villagers grab their rifles and take up position behind the heavy barricade they've built to protect them for just this situation. This should provide them with a good degree of cover from insurgent fire as well as some protection if they get attacked.

The barricade was a support list choice...almost mandatory in this scenario for the villagers

A close up of the guerrillas shows that they have come equipped mostly with the venerable SKS rifle and an RPG. The leader, Josiah Akiki (hand waving), encourages his troops forward as the guerrillas shake themselves out....

A brisk fusilade opens up. The rifle fire is largely ineffective as the three villagers man the defences. The locals have fired off another flare to hurry the local constabulary along.....not realising they are already on the way. For now its three against many!

Knowing that time is critical, Josiah calls on his RPG gunner to fire at the main kraal building, the objective for this mission.  The weapon is primed and ready to fire....

...meanwhile two trucks are heading up the access road.  Lucky for villagers elements of the Royal Rhodesian Regiment is stationed nearby and they make good time to get to the threatened kraal. Time is a factor for the Rhodies as they too want to engage the insurgents before they slip away...they pick up the pace mindful that the road could be mined as has happened in the past...

..the first RPG round is fired. It misses!....but only just, passing just over the top of the hut, doing no damage. The rifle fire continues with little effect to either side...

...still more sporadic fire. Not really expecting to be able to do much damage, they're hoping they might get lucky and drive off the villagers so the RPG gunner can move in and get a good shot at the chief's hut. Good news however, as they score a double six on their command dice die roll and get back to back phases...

...knowing his squad is safe for the moment, Akiki keeps up the tempo....the RPG is primed again...."remember your training!" shouts Josiah......"make!!!"

..this time the RPG whistles by and passes through the roof of the hut much to the delight of the comrades in the squad....The hit causes the SF morale to drop by two points as bits of the building fly off from the exploding RPG round, the villagers running for cover....getting the hang of it the young lion reaches for another grenade and prepares his weapon again....
Any RPG hit on the building potentially causes the SF force morale to drop. In this case the 'strike' has a good result dropping the SF force morale from 8 to 6...which was quite a good outcome.

...however, with a poor roll of command dice the second time round the insurgent player loses his chance to inflict some more damage and possibly achieve his objective in the easily stages of the action...he does instruct the troops to "spread out" using their special 'Tsuro' move which enables them to move 3D6" and not suffer any shock. All is ready for some deadly volley fire next phase....

The ability of the insurgents to Tsuro move is a powerful trait. This enable them to move around quite fast so the CT player must be careful not to get to much shock on his units or they will slow down and he'll lose this advantage. If a unit becomes pinned then of course it cannot move...

...with all the activity and firing that the Rhodies can hear coming down the road the sergeant instructs the driver to speed up. He moves at a 'safe' fast speed (2D6") but unfortunately for them the insurgents have placed a mine on the road and it is not spotted....BOOM!

...mines are triggered by the speed a vehicle moves. The faster it goes the more likely a mine is to explode and less likely it can be spotted and avoided.

...with an almighty explosion the truck flips on its side. The force of the explosion, which must have been a piggy-backed mine by its intensity, sends the trucks sliding along the road. The Rhodies bail out, one man is down injured, the rest somewhat shellshocked but otherwise unharmed...needless to say the platoon lieutenant instructs his driver in the second truck to slow down!!

Mines are handled uniquely in Bush Wars:Rhodesia. They are not placed by the owning player but, as mentioned above, the speed of the travelling vehicle determines if the mine is detected or triggered. AP hits for mines are this case the CT player rolled a 6 causing 6AP hits. On an unarmoured truck each 3+ is a 'kill', the truck taking 4..ouch! This knocked out the vehicle and caused 2D6 casualties on the passengers and the CT player scored a 10!! Of these, some poor rolling caused no shock and only one casualty (Kill)....this could have been a disaster for the SF player!

 the sound of the explosion Josiah encourages his men as the Rhodies have for sure suffered from the mine he planted the previous night. His men, inspired by their leader's luck and success, pick up the fire on the kraal. Getting a double six on the command dice  again and with the enemy reinforcements in disarray, he taps his RPG gunner on the head to fire again.....

Command Dice (6,6,3,3,1)

 hit! The young gunner fires his last RPG round right into the hut which starts burning as the grenade unmistakable roar goes up at the edge of the clearing, guns waving in the air, as the insurgents are bouyed by their success.

Josiah Akiki can be seen here, JSL (Junior Senior Leader). The second hit on the building causes a check to see if the force morale points drops...the insurgent player rolls a 6 causing a massive three point drop in force morale for the Security Force....their force morale has now dropped from 8 to 6 to 3 points!..this actually means the insurgent player has achieved his objective of reducing the enemy morale and may now think of getting away if he chooses to. 

...a close up of the burning chief's hut....

 the sound of the explosion, Jonathan T'Kongo, the commander of the second squad of insurgents, moves into position. Perfectly placed to interdict the advancing Rhodesian relief force the ZANLA plan is unfolding better than they had hoped....

T'Kongo, seeing the Rhodies in confusion orders his men to fire, but their poor weapons handling causes no hits though they sense they have the SF forces right where they wan't them.....

T'Kongo (pointing) is the junior leader (JL) of this squad.

Springing into action, the young Rhodesian sergeant (Joost), a South African by birth, immediately gets his squad to shake out as his voice of experience steadies the men (removes shock) as he takes charge of the situation. At the same time he gets on the radio and reports to HQ that he has a man down injured. Fortunately the SF player rolled a double six giving him a back to back phase..

(Command Dice 6,6,5,4,3)

Travelling in the rear truck the platoon Lieutenant, Jimmy Shale, starts barking out orders. Knowing Joost can handle his section, he instructs his section to debus and head into the scrub off to the right. Pushing the rifle group out furthest and advancing with the MAG gunner and small HQ group he hopes to lay down a platform of fire and swing around and take the insurgents in the flank.

Sergeant Joost, now having recovered from the shock of the mine explosion similarly pushes his rifle group out to the left and gets his gun-group to race into the small rocky outcrop and start firing on the insurgents.

The man down is still close by and can be attended to by the section medic (bush doctor).

Here you can see the typical layout of a Rhodesian platoon. Two section in this case, each with their separate rifle and gun group led by the platoon HQ element.

....T'Kongo can see the Rhodies starting to move and steadies his men for the fight. Not any ordinary insurgents these Vakomana Shumba 'veterans' are up for a fight....or at least will not run at the first sign of the enemy!

 Joost shakes out the left hand section, Shale pushes the right section up and gets on the blower, calling in to find out the whereabouts of the Casevac vehicle for the young oeun who is wounded. His condition is not yet stable and Shale doesn't want any dead men on this mission so takes a moment of pause to call up, give a quick sitrep and get the support vehicle moving...

....The platoon shakes out before the sweep

..Sergeant Joost has his men in a skirmish line ready to take on the terr fighters....

...the MAG gunner prepares to fire....

 do the young Vakomana fighters....

Joost screams to the troopies to shoot and the MAG gunner opens up.... short, accurate burst result in three shock being placed on the guerrillas....somewhat foolishly they stand up and challenge the Rhodies to come at them....Vakomana fighters indeed!

......the supporting rifle group also opens up and starts peppering away at the enemy.....killing one insurgent and inflicting another four shock...deadly suppressive fire...

....meanwhile the section under the platoon commander's personal direction moves off to the right, the battle line starting to take shape....

....note, visibility is limited to 18" so the insurgents are just on the limit of being seen by the SF forces and vice versa....

...steeling his men to the fight, and to curb their enthusiasm somewhat, T'Kongo tries to move his men back away deeper into the scrub...he fails to get them to shift however due to the effects of the heavy suppressive fire from the enemy machine gun and rifle fire...  
Even though he and his men can (Tsuro) move very quickly the amount of shock his squad took (7) has resulted in him only falling back 2" (rolling 3,4,2).... not enough to move out of visibility range (18").

....still no sign of the Casevac vehicle, Joost gets on the radio again trying to find out what the delay is, as the young oeun starts to look decidedly shaky....

...."straight line boys, straight line...."

...meanwhile back at the kraal the villagers come out of the huts and peer over trying to locate the insurgent terrorists. Despite many pairs of eyes, they can't see anyone and the rifle fire has stopped.....

...on the edge of the scrub, Akiki gives the order..."home boys, home....lets go!!" The veteran commander that he is now knows the time to move has arrived. The Rhodie's can't be too far away as many minutes have passed since the land mine has exploded and he can also hear rifle fire to his rear and knows T'Kongo won't be able to stay in the fight long.....

"...Ok! one more shot, only one....lets go!!"

...with that, Akiki and his squad make a run for it!!! Heading toward their pre arranged dispersal point they make haste to slip away before the Rhodies can catch them in a trap...their early success has given them a great opportunity to 'take the gap'...

"come on lads, let's stick it to those terrs....grab that other ammo belt will ya, I'm runnin' low...."

...they're up on that hill, just over there...

 the first squad heads toward their dispersal point the second squad hangs tough with the full weight of the SF force to their front....

...T'Kongo, encourages his men to fire and the cacophony of miss directed shots goes harmlessly overhead the Rhodesians without causing any casualties, but it does have a suppression effect (causing two shock points)...

CT fire is notoriously inaccurate, as it was historically, but if they can cause only one or two casualties the Rhodies will be slowed down significantly as the loss of each man can reduce their force morale.

"...there, watch out on the left, they're trying to get behind us...keep firing!....can you see them....those guys, over there"

 T'Kongo's squad holds the line Akiki's squad hurries along behind through the scrub...

"...almost there, faster, hurry...."

..."enda, enda, enda" (go,go,go)...

The Rhodies, now shaken out into a line, both left and right, bring down a withering fire. Joost's rifle group gets a bead on the terrorists and kills two more with accurate shooting (inflicting a further two shock as well). Then the MAG gunner opens up.....dropping a further two terrs and yet more suppression.
From this one round of deadly fire T'Kongo's squad took four kills and seven shock...more than would've normally been was clear now that T'kongo had over played his hand trying to cover the exfil of the first squad behind them.

...Shale's section advances to the access road and prepares to attack the now pinned and suppressed insurgent squad...

"...spread out, spread out..."

..amazingly T'Kongo did not go down as a casualty in the last round of fire. With shock at 8 and five men left in the squad, it teeters on routing but now can't move because it is pinned. Fortunately the squad now counts as if in Hard Cover as the troops hit the dirt to protect themselves amongst the it enough? Problem is they need to get away and now they can't move.

...the Rhodies are now ready to make their final push on the insurgents. The enemy has lost the ability to really cause them any further morale loss through fire and to break an insurgent unit will deny the CT player victory.

..the right hand section sweeps forward...but where is the casevac vehicle??...the young oeun doesn't look to good...

...the ZANLA squad led by Akiki is close to their dispersal point so must test to see if the unit bombshells (scatters) or will hold its nerve and Take the Gap instead...if it bombshells the insurgent force morale will drop. Limited by a bad command dice roll he must choose between assigning dice to T'Kongo or use them himself... this phase the CT player got another 5 on the command dice nearly giving him a chain of command dice....amazingly after the initial three 5s in the opening phase he hasn't got another 5 (barr one) on his command dice since. However, on his next roll he also scored three 1s!! With this he decides to reduce shock on T'kongo's squad and forgo movement on Akiki squad altogether.

...and with that, Akiki's squad Bombshells! He loses control of his men as they scatter in all question, seeds of doubt start fermenting in the men's minds as they near completion of their mission but can hear the deadly fire from the nearby Rhodesian forces... 

....Bombshell!!!... This causes the insurgent morale to drop...bomb-shelling being the equivalent of a Section breaking. The CT force morale drops from 8 to 6.


In the distance the MAG gunners open up. Despite being in 'hard cover' T'Kongo's squad takes a casualty, one man dead. The rifle group adds their fire causing yet another two losses....very accurate firing!!! With only three men left, and their leader wounded the squad breaks...
...The Rhodies got very lucky with their firing this phase!...T'kongo is wounded, causing a force morale die roll..scoring a 6!, resulting in a 2 point drop, from 6 to 4. However the Section breaks which also causes yet another die roll for force morale loss, it now dropping from 4 to 2!....things are looking shaky all of a sudden.

...T'kongo and his men make a run for it, falling back into the scrub and heading directly back to their dispersal point (they rolled 15" for movement!)

...on the next phase the CT player must attempt to reduce his shock so that he does not remain in a routed condition. He could then play his Chain of Command dice, end the turn and with an activation, Take the goes the plan....T'Kongo still has a few choices to get away even though he is running!

....what actually happens however, is the SF player immediately uses his Chain of Command dice to end the turn! He takes a chance as his own casualties still haven't been attended to which could result in a reduction of his own force morale, however he wants the CT player to lose the unit 'routed' off table. This will cause a force morale loss for the leader routing and prevent the CT player from recovering and being able to take the gap thereby avoiding any possible force morale loss as he gets both units away. by forcing the issue the SF player declares his hand, the CT player rolls for the force morale loss of his leader (routing off table) and luckily rolls a1!...resulting in no force of morale loss.  He then rolls for the routed unit, and as it is must now bombshell to get away, it too checks on the force moral table.  A score of 2 means a drop of only 1 force morale point, result in the CT force morale dropping from 2 to 1.... both units of the CT player are off table, his force morale is not reduced to zero and the enemy force morale is three or less it's a ZANLA victory!!!.....Josiah Akiki gets both units away and slips into the scrub undetected by the Rhodie force.

At the end of the game all casualties must test as if the turn ends. This can cause a reduction in force morale for the SF player so he needs to take that into consideration when he decides to try and end the game. In this case no further morale reduction occurred.


The scenario played somewhat differently to that which was anticipated. The CT player used his Patrol Phase well, positioning his JOPs centrally to enable him to deploy straight into the action...which is kind of the idea. He was a bit lucky as he caused so much damage with his RPG attack which virtually meant he needn't have engaged the SF forces at all. This would be termed the optimal outcome for the CT player in this scenario as he can usually count on having to fight the SF forces up to a point to cause the Rhodie’s force morale to drop.

Having achieved his objective he played smart and more or less tried to withdraw and not engage the oncoming SF Forces. He could've swung his first squad to support his second and try and get the enemy force morale to zero with another success which would have delivered him victory also, but instead chose to ‘Take the Gap’ (getaway) instead...ultimately a wise choice, though it almost went wrong. As Akiki's squad was equipped with only SKS rifles they really didn't come equipped to take on a fresh Rhodesian platoon....which was never his plan anyway.

The mine is certainly an excellent option for the CT player in this scenario and he could've ignored the building objective completely and attempted a more deliberate ambush of sorts vs the SF relieving forces with the way his JOPs were placed. To do so though might have meant it would've been hard to break contact and make it to the dispersal other words he would've had to stand and fight to achieve his win. By selecting an Insurgency Level Two he never had the resources to do that, but the SF player couldn't have known this but ultimately his bluff would’ve been called.

In this case the CT player cleverly used a combination of attacking the 'soft' target of the building and delaying the SF relief force with his second squad, which proved to be the right combination to pull off a victory and slip away, albeit with both squads bombshelling and causing a loss of force morale. 

Tactically, T'Kongo would have been much better putting his troops in a tactical stance to minimise shock and casualties in the opening firefight, which would have made his job of slipping away much simpler...but he forgot in the heat of the action!

Fortunately the CT player had the luxury of high force morale toward the end of the action due to virtually no losses which enabled him to 'burn' some of it as he approached his dispersal points…it's always good to have some force morale left as you approach your dispersal points as you never know if you can 'take the gap' (which causes no force morale drop) or if you will bombshell  (which will cost you force morale)...which could lose you the game right at the death when victory seems assured........this is always a potential problem for the CT player and reflects that the battle is not fought in a vacuum but accounts for the 'real escape' of a CT force before the SF forces can locate them in the post battle pursuit.

For the SF player his engagement started by choosing some defensive works for the defenders of the krall/farm. This is not mandatory but is useful. Alternatively he could place his defenders in a tactical stance which effectively makes them as hard to hit but they could be easily overrun and their loss would be as damaging to force morale as the damage to the this is a real consideration for the SF player....he does not want a repeat of the real life Altena Farm event so must guard against this.

The on table reinforcements were a bit unlucky in that they were not really expecting to detonate a mine, on the contrary, they might have hoped to spot it. Wheeled vehicles move fast down roads so can rapidly get to their destination. As the SF player can see the enemy JOPs once play starts (essentially reflecting a good platoon commander identifying potential ambush locations) the tactic of moving slowly makes sense, which could potentially mean seeing a mine, avoiding it, and then speeding up rapidly to move through any likely ambush area and to the krall. If he's really lucky he might get a back to back phase to move up quickly, however in this game, the CT player had not yet used his 'free' ambush which would've enabled him to counter such a situation. As it turned out the CT player didn't need to use it.

For the SF player to have survived the blast of the mine was a stroke of luck, though to be fair, so too the CT player had his, as the mine not only exploded with great force (6AP) as well as causing a lot of hits (10) which was a good run of hot dice rolling! This could've unravelled the entire SF game plan and resulted in a severe force morale loss and virtually the loss of the scenario on that basis alone....a reason to have mine protected vehicles like real life!!!...though off course in 1967 you can't have any :-)

As it turned out the odds swung for both sides and the SF player got his men out relatively unscathed. Shaking his troops out into formation, laying a fire base with his MAG gunner, ordering a quick reaction with his right wing sweep and calling for a Casevac, he was making all the right moves....just like he would've in a real contact. More than anything else he was trying to pin his enemy in place so they could deliver the coup de grace, but ultimately his fire caused an involuntary run by the T'Kongo's squad and the CTs slipped away...albeit in a pell-mell run for their lives!!

This idea of 'find, fix, finish' is important for the SF player to grasp, for if his fire is ineffective (low shock) and then it slackens (end of turn) the CTs can Shumba move (be removed from play) and get away clean. They can then re enter at another jump off point (as for a normal unit placement) reflecting rapid unseen movement and then race to a dispersal point with their Tsuro move (3d6" move with no shock effect)....usually not where near the SF forces are...something for both players to consider when the final JOPs are locked down and their subsequent in game use.

All that aside, this was been the perfect moment for the SF player to use a Chain of Command dice to end the turn, as he did, in an attempt to force the broken CT unit to be removed from play without it successfully bombshelling first. This would've caused a routed leader test (with a likely drop of force morale) as well as a broken section test (for bomb shelling) which had a good chance of reducing the CT force morale from two to zero...luckliy he only lost a single morale point and got off table 'successfully' with some force morale intact....if it dropped to zero then the CT player loses.

This last point was something the SF player had to consider because at the End of a Turn all SF casualties not yet Casevac'd must test to see if they 'bleed out'. At this stage of the action this would have been the second attempt and this would've mean’t there was a fair chance one or even two SF soldiers could've died (though luckily they didn't) and this would've likely caused his force morale to drop to the victory to the CT player anyway, unless his morale had also dropped to zero....the only real combination for a draw in this scenario...such were the decisions the SF player had to wrestle with!!

So as can be seen the scenario produces many, many decision points for both players, starting right at the beginning with CT player choosing his force to fit the type of engagement he plans on fighting. This very much determines the type of battle that will occur. The SF player to a degree is fixed to 'obvious' choices to enhance his standard platoon structure...though he has a good selection to pick from.

All the above off course does not have to be aimed just at CT attackers vs SF defenders. This scenario could easily have been played out using an attacking force of SAS or Selous Scouts, who conducted many such operations akin to the outpost scenario. This changes the dynamic significantly as the SF player can really take the fight to the enemy and in fact must, as his victory conditions revolve around reducing CT force morale to other victory conditions are available to him, unlike the CT player who can hit and run...the SF must hit and fight!

.....all very interesting options and lots of possible variation with the amount of platoon types available to both sides in the Rhodesian Bush War.